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6x4 Bandsaw

6x4 Bandsaw

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I am a fool. I have recently realised that I have made a terrible mistake. What is this great error? Taking too long to get around to buying a bandsaw.

For the last year or so I've been using a hacksaw, and a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade. Both these tools require a large amount of "audience participation" - it takes an age to get though some large stock, for example, cutting off a length of 3 inch round aluminium bar would normally take me about 4 or 5 sessions at the hacksaw. Each session at the saw lasts perhaps 10 minutes, until my arm refuses to hack any longer.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to make a couple of cuts in some 30mmx110mm aluminium flat bar. I put it in the vice, oiled my hacksaw, and started the cut. A few seconds later I was at the computer looking up the machine tools website.

I've been looking at the various bandsaws on different websites over the last few months and have learn a few things.

  • The normal tool for the home metalworking workshop is the 6x4 bandsaw. So called because it has the capacity to cut a lump of stock 4 inches by 6 inches. I was skeptical about such claims, but I believe it now!
  • All the bandsaws probably come out of the same factory in China.
  • Models vary between different suppliers/importers, however, it seems most of these changes are cosmetic - but some of these cosmetic changes can be quite nice eg bigger handwheels.
  • There seems to be two basic models available in the UK. One is about 225 and the other is about 175. The main difference that I can see concerns the vice. On the more expensive model the vice is an integral part of the base casting, however, on the cheap model it looks like an additional vice. I don't think the cheaper model supports are vertical mode.

I purchased the 220 version from Chester Uk. I purchased my mini-lathe from these guys, and their service is fine.

After receiving the package, and doing the usual jigsaw puzzle of construction, and laughing at the manual, I got it up and running in about an hour.

My first cut was through some 1inch aluminium round bar. Very impressed. Next I grabbed my 3inch aluminium round bar and started to saw a thin (5mm) slice off the end to clean it up. In the time it took me to make a cup of tea and start these notes, it had finished that job. Magic. Truly Magic. Finally I tried the 4inchx1inch flat bar. Again, extremely impressive.

How is this saw going to help me?

  • First of all, obviously, it will allow me to cut more quickly, thus saving time.
  • I will now undertake more projects, because the massive effort in preparing the stock has been removed. I am lazy, I'll often not start a project because I couldn't be arsed cutting the stock.
  • I will do better jobs - because it is so easy to cut material, I'm now more likely to use the correct material in a given situation.
  • I'll save additional time cleaning up stock. With a hacksaw, you get a messy cut, which takes a lot of time to face into something flat - the bandsaw cuts pretty smooth, so additional facing operations are 4 times quicker.

Many places on the website recommend getting a decent bi-metal cutting blade - I've done this, but I haven't fitted it yet, because the existing blade seems to cut well enough for now, and I can imagine changing blades is a whole new learning curve.

The other common recommendation is to make a better stand for the saw. They are probably right, as the stock stand rattles a bit, but it seems to work, so I'm not in any great hurry to make a new stand.

In summary, if you don't have one, go and buy one. No excuses. Sod the money, don't worry about space, don't waste any more time, just go and buy one right now!!

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